I've always had a great appreciation for what gets classed as commercial art, book illustration and covers, poster art, album covers, and am always amazed at the sheer quality of the artwork created.  This is probably because I've bought into the myth of the starving artist in the garrett.  Van Gogh aside, the majority of the old masters and the great painters that followed all produced their work commercially.  Pictures were commissioned to fill a space somewhere and the artist was paid.  Only time has lent them a veneer of artistic holiness, as it has since done to some of the fine Victorian and post Victorian book illustrators. Many fine works by commercial artists of the last century are now finding an appreciative audience, although this is still part driven by nostalgia as in the case of early 20th century travel posters.

All of this is by way of drawing attention to a personal favourite, Blue Note record label album art.  Something about jazz in the 40's 50's and 60's lent itself to some wonderfully experimental and stylistic art and some of my favourite examples now follow.

I love the simplicity of the line on this and the cats playing among the empty chairs.  The bright golden yellow beautifully mutes the line work and leaves me expecting a bright but mellow sound from the album itself.

This just shouts bebop to me.  The overlaid black and white transparencies and then the one off kilter print in an electric pink seems like a visual interpretation of the music, almost like those old Filmboard of Canada cartoons with lines and circles and splashes of colour moving in time to the music.

The use of something that looks like African tribal art, and more than a little phallic as well, makes this a stand out for me.  Again just orange and black on a white ground with the carefully positioned figures just tells you exactly what you can expect from the album, hot and sexy Afro-Cuban sounds.

Finally there's this, a fantastic bit of typographical art.

Again two colours, the beautiful curves in the J's reflecting both the curves of the trombone in the photo and the shadows it casts ove JJ Johnson.  The sans-serif names of the artists squarely aligned to the serifs on the lower J.

There a several excellent sites hosting galleries of BlueNote covers.  These were taken from my favourite which was housed on pixagogo but has since disappeared.